While a traditional Northern Thai dish popular in Chiang Mai, incidentally one of my favourite cities in the world, it's in Bangkok (my absolute favourite city in the world) where I tried this spicy gem of a dip. Normally nam prik ong is made with ground pork, and I've had it with tofu also, but here I've opted for TVP and aubergine. For a real treat forget about the tin and wait until summer when tomatoes are at their best.
It's great with rice, but conventionally served with fresh vegetables. Blanch or steam them very briefly, only a minute at most, and serve alongside veggie nam prik ong for an easy party or potluck dish. Or meal. Or midnight snack.
Vegetarian Nam Prik Ong
- Mix the 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil with the aubergine in a roasting tin and bake the pieces for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare the TVP in a medium bowl by pouring ½ cup of boiling water plus 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce over top.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok to medium heat and fry the shallot, garlic, lemongrass, and chilli for a minute or two, or until fragrant and shallot starts to become translucent. Add the TVP mix and kick the heat up a notch to medium-high, stir frying for a few minutes just to take some of the moisture back out.
- Knock the heat back down to medium and stir in all remaining ingredients (tomatoes, eggplant/aubergine, sugar, tamarind, bean sauce). The flavour profile ought to be spicy/sweet/sour, so add soy, sugar, and tamarind liquid to suit. Leave to thicken for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with fresh blanched or steamed vegetables.